Grandkids and Thomas Hardy (Not Related)

May you see your children’s children (Psa. 127:6).  As some of you know, I have been busy this week with my children’s children. It has been a wonderful and busy week.  The week started out with two of my daughters and grandchildren joining me for Saturday morning matins.  We began matins by running back and forth across the church nave: “One, two, three, go!”  The room was cold and this both warmed up the kids and us, and coincidentally, got the wiggles out of the two older boys.  Next they took turns “censing” the church with a cold censer and wearing extra skuffia (Greek style priest hats) that I had on hand while I lit the lampadas.  Then we prayed matins with the girls taking turns chanting and the kids wandering around the nave.  The oldest, six year old David, wore his mother’s sweater with it’s long belt over his shoulder like an orarion.  He spent the service before the icons pretending to be the deacon.  I loved it.  It was so natural.  The kids were just kids, the moms were just moms, and we prayed together.
Again on Wednesday night everyone came for vespers.  It was perhaps a little distracting for the single adults who generally come to midweek vespers, but the chanting was heavenly.  My three girls used to chant together before they all got married and went off with their respective husbands to various corners of North America.  After vespers we just sat in the nave singing the Pascha and Christmas canons and other hymns from memory.  It was heavenly.  
Somehow in the midst of the week I was able to complete and get off my next podcast for “Speaking of Books” on Ancient Faith Radio.  I don’t know if what I have to say about these great books is of any interest to anyone.  Certainly there are people out there who are actually qualified to speak about them (who have actually studied 19th century British Literature); but until one of them steps up to the plate, I guess I will do to get the ball rolling.  
I really do enjoy reading novels of this period.  Today, the best creative minds are more likely to be making films rather than writing novels (notice I said likely–yes there are also good novelists today, but 150 years ago novels were the “movies”).  
For my next podcast I am thinking about Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge.  It about the humbling of an arrogant man and reaping what you sow.  Hardy’s novels are about hard life in rural 19th century England.  Because Hardy’s first love is poetry, his writing style is amazingly beautiful.  His sentences often roll through your mind like the sheep-speckled hills of a an English country setting on a warm autumn day.  The clauses of his long sentences just seem to fit together.  After six weeks of Dickens, it will be a vacation.  Hardy does have a penchant  for unusual words, country idioms and local dialect, so you have to keep your guessing wits (and a dictionary) about you.

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